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This constant, low-grade sense of urgency can impede genuine communication.
Mindful listening - focused attention to what another person is saying, without judging or having an agenda - is a foundational skill that is rarely practised anywhere.
When you’re in conversation, set your mind to being present, receptive, and ready to listen with compassion.
Bring yourself into the moment with a few deep breaths and ask yourself: What is this person communicating beyond the words they use?
When the other person is speaking, just listen. Stay mentally active and alert. Use nonverbal signals like nodding or smiling to let the person know you’re tuned in.
As with mindful breathing, your thoughts will wander.
When you realize that your mind has drifted, let go of the thoughts and return your attention to what the person is saying.
Tuning in to your own body can give you valuable information about your direct experience when listening.
Is there tightness in your chest, uneasiness in your belly? Or do you feel a lightness and a sense of joy?
When you get fairly good at listening mindfully without speaking, begin to experiment with offering brief verbal comments that express kindness, or ask questions that deepen understanding.
The key is to keep the focus on the speaker, not to bend it around to yourself. You might try, “Oh, that sounds rough. What happened next?”
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